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Helping Hands Make the Season Bright

The holiday season is officially here! How will you celebrate? Rather than getting caught up in the frenzy of shopping for gifts and hosting holiday parties, consider creating a new tradition that offers hope to those in need--volunteering is an ideal way to give the gift of your time to your community.

Many local nonprofit organizations rely on and benefit from volunteer help during the holidays. Most need extra hands at this time of year due to increased demand for services.

Food banks are busy year-round, but they're especially in need of extra help right now with an increase of donations from generous holiday food drives, such as the annual county-wide Drive and Drop food drive in Lewis County. With their holiday food programs comes an increased need for helping hands to prepare and deliver food baskets to participating families and individuals in need. Sorting, shelving, re-packaging, driving to pick up and deliver food are all necessary contributions to make their operations run smoothly. Right now, the Thurston County Food Bank, Yelm Food Bank, North Mason Food Bank, and the Lewis County Food Bank Coalition, among others, are welcoming new volunteers!

November is also the time of year when participating nonprofit organizations provide hot holiday meals to individuals and families in need. Many of the same organizations hold toy drives and require folks to sort toys by age and sometimes wrap up gifts for children who may otherwise have to go without. For these events to work well, nonprofits need volunteers! From set up to decorating, setting tables, organizing items, kitchen prep, serving meals to clean-up crews, volunteers are invaluable.

Barb's Family & Friends is continuing its decades-long tradition of throwing a holiday celebration offering free home-cooked meals to low-income community members. This fun party still goes on, as Barb's son carries on her legacy of connecting and supporting the community through delicious food. Other organizations such as The Union Gospel Mission and other area faith-based organizations continue their traditions of serving hot holiday dinners for those in need as well, and Volunteers are needed to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

The Salvation Army of Olympia has many chances to volunteer for the holidays. These span from gift wrappers to helping prepare and serve meals, to the seasonal need for red kettle bell ringers who continue the tradition of procuring donations from their willingness to jingle their bell that rings out as part of a familiar holiday soundtrack.

Additionally, the Salvation Army and other organizations such as Interfaith Works, City Gate Ministries, Tumwater Lions Club, ROOF Community Services, and Barb's Family & Friends offer an Adopt-a-Family program, where volunteers purchase much-needed gifts to make the season brighter for families and individuals ensuring they, too, feel the magic of the giving season.

This season of giving can become your season of giving back, which will reward you with a gift of an enriching experience that is good for the heart. For more information on how to get involved, call Jennifer Thompson, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Coordinator (RSVP) at 360-943-2773, ext. 121 or email